PUTNEY — Every Thanksgiving for the past 41 years, Vermont’s most iconic open studio tour, The Putney Craft Tour, the oldest continuous craft tour in the country held during the long Thanksgiving Weekend, draws thousands to the studios to meet the artisans to experience where art begins and purchase one-of-a-kind works.
Because of the ongoing concern of spreading COVID-19, artisans on the tour felt it important to share their work that brings so much joy and meaning especially during the holidays, rather than cancel the tour altogether.
This year the 42nd Putney Craft tour will come straight into people’s homes offering shoppers and “tour-goers” the opportunity to shop and browse the Putney Craft Tour collection from the comfort of their own homes. This year’s online tour will feature 19 artisans — including glass blowers, potters, jewelers, weavers, painters, woodworkers —even artisan cheesemakers and winemakers.
The virtual tour kicks off on Black Friday, Nov. 27 at 10 a.m. and continues throughout the weekend until Sunday at 5 p.m. The tour website will be open for browsing in advance, but the artisan’s online stores will not be open until 10 a.m. on Friday morning.
The virtual tour at putneycrafts.com will not only offer browsing and purchasing of the works of some of Vermont’s finest artists and craftspeople, but to help create an up-close and personal opportunity that the tour is known for, several of the artists are available by appointment to share their lives and how they work via a Zoom call. And, since you can’t be there in person, the tour has produced short videos of each the artists, which is a great way to engage with the artists and discover the secrets of how they work and to browse their collections to help you choose a piece.
Many of the Putney Craft Tour artisans are offering special and other promotions during the tour. Each of the artisans will have different offers, so “tour-goers” will want to check them all out. The tour itself is offering a prize of $100 to one lucky winner. Tour-goers can sign up at putneycrafts.com for a chance to win. The winning ticket will be pulled on Sunday afternoon after the tour ends.
Traditionally, the Putney Craft Tour brings important business not only to the artisans, but to the local shop owners in Putney. Putney’s businesses, like many small businesses across the country, are struggling, and for years the Craft Tour has donated a percent of profits to the Putney Food Shelf and will continue that tradition this year. So not only will purchases help the artisans, but they also will help the community.
Each year the tour also partners with Sandglass Theater and Next Stage Arts, which will also be celebrating the rich tradition of Putney as one of Vermont’s most creative communities. This year is no different. Sandglass Theater artists Shoshana Bass and Jana Zeller will conduct an hour of puppet making for the whole family. During this free online workshop, they will create a beautiful little shadow box and animate two-dimensional puppets on a screen. To participate, go to their website for a list of materials that you can find around the house. The workshop will be available at sandglasstheater.org from 10 a.m. Nov. 27 through 5 p.m. Nov. 29 during the Putney Craft Tour.
Several of the Putney Craft Tour artists also will open their Vermont studios to visitors with set appointments.
Before planning a visit to Vermont, visitors are encouraged to go to healthvermont.gov/response/coronavirus-covid-19/traveling-vermont.